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Hundreds of thousands of motorcycle riders flock to Daytona Beach, Florida for Bike Week

Posted at 10:56 AM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 12:56:09-05

Hundreds of thousands of people are descending upon Dayton Beach, Florida this week for the city's annual motorcycle rally — despite limits on indoor capacity and parking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Daytona Beach Bike Week marks the city's 80th anniversary of the event, taking place from March 5-14. It's advertised as one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world — city officials say upwards of 300,000 people are expected to attend.

"Typically in the past, it was estimated between 400,000 – 500,000 for the ten days over this entire area," Janet Kersey, Executive Vice President and COO of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce told CBS News on Tuesday. "This year, we know because of continued COVID concerns and the loss of income many have had over this past year it will be less. A reasonable estimate would be around 300,000 plus. With good weather and the vaccine now in distribution that could improve."

Some merchants in the area are limited to 60% indoor capacity due to the pandemic, city officials said. Additionally, curbside parking is limited, traffic is motorcycles-only for the first time, merchants are instructed to follow CDC guidelines for face masks and social distancing and participants are encouraged to do the same.

Kersey emphasized that significant signage has been put up to enforce CDC guidelines.

"Please be patient when waiting to enter. Outdoor areas will be plentiful. All our local businesses want you to enjoy your visit and be safe," Bike Week said on its website. "We're looking forward to a fun and safe event in 2021."

Last summer, over 400,000 people descended upon South Dakota for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Just weeks later, it was linked to hundreds of COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Washington. The bike rally ignited an outbreak in Minnesota.

Florida does not have a statewide mask mandate. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has flouted some health guidelines since the beginning of the pandemic, most recently facing criticism over vaccine distribution in the state.

Bike Week has already led to at least one minor incident. Over the weekend, Times Square's infamous Naked Cowboy was arrested while performing at the event.

Robert Burck, 51, who is famous for playing guitar while wearing nothing but white underwear, boots and a cowboy hat in New York City, was charged with panhandling, the Daytona Beach Police tweeted. He was released from jail Sunday morning.